By Alyssa Kerr
How do you pay tribute to a man whose whole life was a tribute to the people?
On April 29, Muse Arts Warehouse hosted a screening of the new documentary “Marley.”
It is safe to assume that I am not the only one who loves Bob Marley — according to the reactions of girls in the row ahead of me, cawing over the most attractive pictures, and the man next to me audibly agreeing with Marley’s many revelations.
Somewhere among his views on humanity, his universally relatable lyrics and his glorious dreadlocks, I developed a serious—albeit biased—amount of compassion and respect for the man. Not to mention an undeniable attraction.
That being said, if I hadn’t already loved the reggae legend, I would seriously consider it after seeing this film. But that’s not to say it was a puff piece of a documentary by any means.
Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald, along with the help of those who were closest to Marley (his wife Rita, daughter Cedella and son Ziggy, as well as many close friends and musicians), shed light on his life.
In all 144 minutes of the film, Macdonald covered as much as possible about Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley’s life: from his birth at Nine Mile, St. Ann, to his barefoot days in Kingston, worldwide pop-stardom and his death in Miami.
Most of the documentary was shown through photographs and old interview and concert footage. There were some distinct and refreshing moments of Marley’s strong Jamaican dialect. Words like “duppy” had to be defined in subtitles on-screen.
But of course the main focus was his music which ultimately defined his way of life.
Marley’s songs chronologically opened each new chapter of his life within the documentary. Even the young singing voice of a 17-year-old Marley made its way into the film, from his first single, “Judge Not.”
The film also delved into the less honorable aspects of Marley’s character. Things like his multiple affairs — he had 11 children from seven different relationships, all while he and Rita were married.
Marley, idolized as he may be, was only human after all. But he knew that, making this quote of his all the more fitting: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”
And he suffered too. Marley had malignant melanoma throughout his entire body in his final years. He put off getting treatment because he knew it would disable him from playing music and dancing on stage for his fans.
And from playing soccer—or, excuse me, futbol. He loved futbol.
The film included rare pictures of a bald Marley when he finally underwent chemotherapy, choking up the entire theater on sight.
But it is in those moments of Marley’s vulnerability and humility that make his legend so tangible. He’s less of a luminary and more of a friend. A very good, very honest, very famous friend. And from the way we were all tapping our feet and singing along to “One Love” as the credits rolled, we all felt that Marley was there in spirit.
“His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world,” said Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga at Marley’s funeral. “His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen; he was an experience, which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.”Contact Alyssa Kerr.